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How To Improve Your Grip Strength To Dominate Spartan Obstacles

By Todd M. Cambio, BS, BA, CSCS

Grip strength is a game-changer in OCR. It helps you successfully get through most of the tougher Spartan obstacles like rope climbs, wall climbs, monkey bars, ring to ring, multi-rigs, farmer's carries and more.


Grip strength starts with pulling strength. A strong grip is the first step in improving your Spartan obstacle success rate. One of the best movements we can do to improve grip strength and pulling strength is the body row.

The body row is the sister exercise to the push up, however, it is much less utilized. It incorporates almost all the same muscle groups as the push up. The exception is that the prime movers are the back of the body (posterior chain) as opposed to the front (anterior chain) of the body.


The tool of choice for me is the Lebert Equalizer. These lovely pieces of stand-alone equipment can be used at home, at your gym or travel with you to where ever you want to get your training in!

What is great about using the Lebert Equalizers (EQ’s) is that you can train multiple protocols, like raw strength, muscular endurance, hanging, time under tension and single arm work!

Most of the attention goes to the Pull Up as the ultimate body weight pulling exercise, which is of course an awesome exercise, but until you are strong enough to do them correctly, the Body Row RAWKS! That being said, even when you are strong enough to do a pull up, single arm EQ Pulls make you just as strong if not stronger!

Body Row Movements

The basics are pretty straightforward. When you get into your starting position with the Equalizers (EQ), dig your heels into the ground and fire your glutes to keep your hips locked and aligned with your shoulders. Grab the black grips with a firm hold to fire up that grip strength. Keep a neutral spine as you pull yourself off the ground. When you progress to the single arm body rows your body will want to rotate on you. Do your best to keep your shoulders parallel to the floor. Your core will get quite a workout with single arm work! When you try the EQ Muscle Up, now you are adding a rotation into the mix which another great athletic quality to add to your training.

Body Row Exercises and Main Benefits

EQ Body Row Strength, Endurance, Time Under Tension


EQ Chin-up Strength, Endurance, Time Under Tension, Multiple Grip Options


Single Leg EQ Body Row Strength, Endurance, Time Under Tension, Increased Core Recruitment


One Arm EQ Body Row – Raw Strength, Time Under Tension, Increased Core Recruitment


Muscle Ups - (follow photo clockwise then reverse it back to starting position) – Raw Strength, Rotational Strength, Endurance, Time Under Tension


Sample Sprint Workout: EQPush/Pull 21-15-9


- 3 rounds. Switch back and forth between each exercise: EQ Body Rows and Push Ups (elevated or on the ground) until specified reps are completed.
- Record for time. Quality before quantity.
- Level: Beginner to advanced

Sample Super Workout: EQ Rotation Station


- 10 min AMRAP – As Many Rounds As Possible. Simply follow the order with prescribed reps.
- Level: Intermediate to advanced

1) EQ Muscle Ups x 8/8

2) EQ Lunges With a Twist x 10/10

3) EQ Mountain Climbers with a Twist 20/20

Sample Beast Workout: EQ BEAST


- Single Arm EQ Pulls and EQ Burpees 10 rounds for time.
- Lay your two EQ’s out spaced appropriately for you to hop between them. When you have you spacing set up, simply stand one EQ up and perform 5 singe arm rows on each arm them lay your EQ down.
- Start on the outside of the two EQ’s with your Burpee.
- Hop laterally hop through (4 hops) until you get to the other side of the two EQ’s where you will perform another Burpee.
- Continue until desired reps are completed.
- Repeat for remain rounds until finished.
- Level: Advanced

        • 1) Single Arm EQ Pulls x 5/5
  • 2) EQ Lateral Burpees x 10

So there you have it, the ultimate pulling/grip strength relationship that not only enhances your overall body weight strength but helps you dominate Spartan Obstacles! Add in these sample workouts and get a full body workout specific to the demands of obstacle course racing.

Todd M. Cambio, BS, BA, CSCS

Besides being a Master Trainer for Lebert Fitness, Todd is also a Master Instructor for Spartan Race and a Kettlebell Instructor for StrongFirst. He is a strength and conditioning coach that specializes in spots performance and obstacle course race training. See what Todd is up to by visiting ToddCambio.com.


Check out Todd's instructional video below: